Maui Tree Planting Ceremony to Honor Tsunami Survivors
By Wendy Osher
A Japanese pine tree planting ceremony will be held on Maui this weekend in honor of the victims of the March 11 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.
The event, organized by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 6, 2011 at the Japanese garden at Kepaniwai Park in Iao Valley.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, who serves as the Honorary Chair of The Aloha Initiative–a respite program in Hawai’i for survivors of the Japan tsunami–will convey a message of condolence, and words of sympathy for the victims. He will also offer an encouraging message of hope and perseverance to survivors of the catastrophe.
Also in attendance will be citizens of Japan who are on Maui as part of the Aloha Initiative program. The Maui-based program was initiated a week after the March 11 disaster to provide citizens of Japan who were displaced by the quake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, with a warm and welcome home.
Organizers decided to plant a pine tree or matsu because it is a symbol of long life and perseverance. They were especially inspired with the story of how only one tree was left standing from a forest of 70,000 pines in Rikuzen-Takata, Iwate Prefecture, following the force of the March 11 tsunami. The lone tree is believed to be between 270 and 280 years old, and has since been dubbed, kiseki no ippon matsu or the miraculous lone pine tree, by residents.
Saturday’s event on Maui is free and open to the public.